Meet The Imam Who’s Making Kashmir’s Seminary Students ‘Competitive’

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Tanveer ul Islam. Photos by Asif Khan

A cleric in Kashmir has introduced academic education apart from the mandatory religious learning in seminary to make children from underprivileged section of the society competitive in their careers.

By Asif Khan

A genial Imam from Old Srinagar’s Mirjanpora locality was silently struggling to get in touch with his faraway students in Kashmir during pandemic. His desperation grew when many in the valley were grappling with the 2G-plagued online classes.

For a change, the cleric, for the sake of his ‘campus cause’, wanted to follow suit: to start e-learning with his seminary students.

His striving method to ‘modernize’ madrassa had earlier baffled those who believe that seminaries should stay old school.

But Mufti Tanveer-ul-Islam thinks otherwise.

“Both academics and religious knowledge is imperative,” he says, sitting in his seminary.

The cleric supports the inclusion of English language and other subjects in Madrassas. And for that, he has already earned respect of the community whose underprivileged children he has been grooming as academically sound for a long now.

“Along with the religious teachings, like Hifz, Nazara, Deenyaat, we teach basics of languages like Arabic and Persian,” the cleric says.

“We’ve also introduced English and Mathematics into the curriculum to make our children more competitive.”

After losing touch with his students in Covid lockdown, the cleric wanted to start online classes. But he faced a practical hitch.

His students’ remote roots devoid of connectivity in their hamlets hindered his efforts. “They don’t even have proper routes to their homes,” the cleric informs.

As they’re yet to show up, the cleric misses marshaling his troupe at the crack of the dawn, and their sundown ruckus and giggles while playing sports.

Apart from learning, Mufti Tanveer keeps his students active and agile by providing sports facilities and routine medical checkups.

“We’ve decent sports equipment and some of the students are really good at cricket and badminton,” he says.

“We’re trying to groom them in every sphere of life here.”

A view of Miftah ul uloom

As the head priest of the Mirjanpora Mosque and its Madrassa, Miftah ul uloom, Mufti Tanveer has been discharging his dual duties with a religious devotion, while, at the same time, striving to uphold the cause of education and improve the outlook of seminary learning system in the valley.

Before arriving in this bustling downtown neighbourhood, the cleric had taught at a Banihal Madrassa for five years. His “humble nature and vast knowledge” of Islamic scriptures and jurisprudence caught the eye of many renowned scholars of Kashmir.

“I came in the valley as a shy young man with many doubts in mind,” says the cleric hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Bannat area. “But the place always make me feel home.”

After appointed him as an Imam at Mirjanpora masjid, the locals realized that the cleric—having done Aalim, Qari and Mufti courses from Miftah ul uloom Madrassa in UP’s Muzzafarnagar area—was much more than a leader in the prayer.

Inside the seminary

He was asked to head Miftah-ul-uloom and soon the institution under his leadership started taking path-breaking steps towards the reformation of the structure.

One of the big advantages which Srinagar has been getting from this Madrassa is that this institution suffices the need of Imams in many urban pockets.

The students of this institution lead the special Taraweeh prayer in the holy month of Ramadan in which the entire Holy Quran is read out verbally.

Mufti Tanveer makes sure that the students are able to commit the entire Holy Scripture to their memory along with the meaning, so that they don’t commit any mistake while reciting long Quranic verses during the prayers.

Today, the seminary cum school has become “torchbearer of hope and knowledge” for the underprivileged section of the society.

While the locality’s contribution is being lauded for starting Miftah-ul-uloom, the man who has been keeping it all together and providing valuable insights into Islamic matters with modern education has become a real hero for his “Enter to learn, Leave to serve” mission.

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